Etisalat hears the call for growth

Etisalat is branching out from its core business into the information and communications sector.

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By  Administrator Published  December 31, 2008

The leading provider of telecommunications services in the UAE, Etisalat is branching out from its core business into the information and communications sector. And with several contracts from the UAE government already under its belt, the telco is pinning its growth hopes on the public sector.

What further opportunities are there for Etisalat in the information and communications (ICT) sector?

There are big opportunities in the ICT sector for telecommunications companies, especially in the corporate and enterprise areas. Some of the drivers for this are telecommunications services like data and mobile, which in the UAE are emerging markets. But we believe that it will soon become a really saturated and mature market.

Another driver is from the customer side, especially those in enterprise. They've built trust and a relationship with their telecommunications company and expect us to provide ICT services. With the convergence of technologies, you can bring together voice, mobile and data and converge between telecommunications and IT. By offering this converged service to customers it allows us to provide more cost-effective solutions.

We've seen from trends that the prices in telecommunications will go down so our revenue will go down. That's why we need to move into another domain to continue our growth.

Can you explain more about the contracts Etisalat has signed?

We started in enterprise a year and a half to two years ago, with a number of contracts focused on the government and public sector - they're the highest spenders on IT in this region.

The opportunities are huge and we've taken on many projects. We're the technology partner for the federal e-Government programme and we've built technology connectivity layers for governments. With the UAE Ministry of Economy we have a multi-year engagement programme and have completed phase one of its e-services project. We are also the project manager and technology provider on this job.

We're also working with the economic department of each emirate on the Unified Certification Registry to join them under one connectivity programme. Microsoft is our technology partner, but we're handling the project management, system integration and design, along with the Ministry of Economy.

We're working with the Abu Dhabi government to help it become one of the top five governments in the world, something which is a stated aim of HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan. We're working with the authority on connectivity and on building its network operations centre and managed call centre.

Do you expect the global economic downturn to curb Etisalat's growth plans in the next twelve months?

There will be an impact in terms of revenue as the economy drives on growth, but we as a company are still anticipating good growth.Revenue will still grow but not at the same pace.

Consumers will try and cut costs and everyone will be conservative, which could include their telecommunications services. But we still expect to see growth within the public sector.

Telecommunications analysts argue there is potential for the UAE's mobile phone market to be opened to a third operator to bring down prices and improve services. Do you agree?

It's an accurate statement. Additional providers mean customers have better prices, competition and improved sales. But it's a decision for the regulator whether there should be a third operator or not. Within every industry, competition improves things.

But you can't continually reduce pricing because it doesn't provide a sustained business case - especially for start-ups. If you cut prices and don't have [sufficient] financing, how do you get the money for services? The key differentiation [between operators] is services and the quality and value of services.

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